The Orioles catcher of the future isn’t a secret. As for their catcher of the present, well, that’s still left to be decided.
Baltimore drafted Adley Rutschman first overall in 2019 and, for all intents and purposes, appear ready for him to make the major league jump for the 2021 season as the team’s starting catcher.
For now, though, the Orioles will have seven catchers at spring training — including three on the 40-man roster (Pedro Severino, Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns). The non-roster invitees are: Martin Cervenka, Taylor Davis, Bryan Holaday and Rutschman.
Severino appeared in 96 games last season and had 341 plate appearances. He slashed .249/.321/.420 and had 13 home runs. Behind the plate, he had 655 putouts and a fielding percentage of .988. Just 26 years old, the former Washington National appears to be the catcher with the best path to starting on Opening Day.
After that, it gets dicey.
Chance Sisco, who once was near the top of prospect lists for catchers across the major leagues, appeared in 59 games last season but slashed just .210/.333/.395 in a backup role behind Severino. While he’s got the inside track with his major league experience, his bat remains a question mark, which could lead the way to Austin Wynns securing the spot.
Wynns played in just 28 games and also struggled at the plate and had a slash of .214/.247/.271.
Those three are on the 40-man roster, while the others at spring training are the aforementioned group of non-roster invitees.
Rutschman is the biggest name of the bunch, which is fairly obvious. But with some time before he plays at Camden Yards, there’s still a waiting period for him to make big-league contributions. Still, his progress will be the most important development at the catcher position for the Orioles as a franchise.
Last season, he hit .254 and had 13 extra-base hits in 37 games at the bottom of the minor leagues. He’s expected to start this season in single-A Frederick or Delmarva.
While there will be a competition at catcher, the position — at least organizationally — isn’t a strong one.
Holaday, 32, is the eldest of the seven catchers in camp but likely won’t contribute much to the Orioles. Meaning, there’s not much to do for the franchise except wait for help to come in the form of Rutschman.
Aside from the former Oregon State Beaver, there aren’t any catching prospects in the top 30 of the Orioles farm system, according to MLB.com.
The Orioles drafted Stanford catcher Maverick Handley in the 6th round of last year’s draft and added Jordan Cannon in the 10th round, but there’s still a waiting period for the Orioles to get their catcher of the future.
The upside, though, is that he’s already in spring training.
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